Del. Myers to endorse county commissioner candidates who back move to charter home-rule

August 16, 2013|BY KAUSTUV BASU |
  • Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr. says he believes moving to charter home-rule would enable Washington County to make decisions locally and bring government closer to the people.
File photo

Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr.’s push for charter home-rule government stalled last month when the Washington County Board of Commissioners took no action on his request to appoint a board to draft a charter that would then be voted on by county residents next year.

Myers, a Republican who represents part of Washington and Allegany counties, said he has no interest in organizing a petition drive to collect signatures from voters to put the issue on the ballot.

Instead, Myers said earlier this month that he intends to keep the issue alive by endorsing candidates for county commissioner seats in the 2014 elections who would back a move to charter home rule.

“My question for candidates will be: ‘Are you going to support (a possible move to) charter home rule?’” he said.

“I’m not going to do one (a petition drive). If someone else does it, so be it,” Myers said.

But he pointed out that time might be running out to organize such a drive, form a charter board, come up with a charter and have the electorate vote on it during the 2014 elections.

The Maryland Constitution specifies that a board of county commissioners will appoint a charter board within 30 days of receiving a petition signed by 5 percent of registered county voters or 10,000 registered county voters, whichever is less.

Elections officials said there were 87,291 registered voters in the county in early July, and 5 percent of that number is 4,365.

Myers, who has said he will not seek re-election to the Maryland House of Delegates, would not say whether he would run for county commissioner, noting only that he would announce his plans in September.

“I think it’s time for us to move to the next level, as many other counties in the state have, and bring government close to the people,” Myers said.

Three previous attempts to move Washington County to charter home rule — in 1977, 1988 and 2008 — were voted down by residents.

“In 2008, there was an opposition to the charter as it was written,” Myers said.

“I believe it is time to take another look at writing a different kind of charter that people can vote on ... if we write a charter the way it was written in Frederick County, our citizens will understand it better,” he said.

Frederick County residents voted in the 2012 election to move to a charter form of government, which will have a county executive and a county council.

Eleven counties in the state have charter home rule or have voted to adopt such a form of government. Six other counties, including Allegany County, have a form of county government known as code home rule.

Washington County is among six counties with a county commissioner form of government.

Myers said his goal in pushing for charter home rule was to “take care of more business in Washington County, without asking those in Annapolis for permission.”

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